Prime opines on sign stealing: ‘Still got to stop it’


Even if Michigan’s football team had stolen its opponents’ signals, Colorado coach Deion Sanders isn’t sure how much it would have helped the Wolverines in their games.

“I don’t know how accurate that stuff is,” Sanders told reporters in Boulder, Colorado, on Tuesday. “I mean, everybody’s trying to get an edge. Everyone’s trying to get an edge wherever they can. You can have someone’s whole game plan. They could mail it to you. You’ve still got to stop it.”

Sources told ESPN on Monday that suspended Michigan analyst Connor Stalions purchased tickets in his own name for more than 30 games over the past three years at 11 different Big Ten schools.

In some cases, Stalions forwarded the tickets he had purchased to various people in different areas of the country, which hints at the scope of the improper scouting operation.

The NCAA notified the Big Ten and Michigan officials last week that its enforcement staff was investigating allegations that the Wolverines had been involved in advance scouting of its opponents at off-campus stadiums, which has been prohibited by the NCAA since 1994.

In a statement last week, Harbaugh denied “illegally stealing signs” and said he had never “directed any staff member or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment.”

Sanders, a Hall of Fame cornerback in the NFL and outfielder with a handful of MLB teams, said stealing signs is more of an advantage in baseball.

“In football, it’s not as pronounced as baseball,” Sanders said. “If I know a curveball is coming, I got you. With football, I don’t give a darn if you know a sweep is coming, you still got to stop it. … It’s a physical game. You got to stop it, so that’s a little tough. I don’t buy into a lot of this stuff that someone’s stealing this, stealing that. I don’t buy into a lot of that. You still got to play the game.”

In-game sign stealing is not prohibited under NCAA rules; it is believed to be widely practiced and tolerated in the sport. But the use of electronics to record the signals of opposing teams and in-person advance scouting at opponents’ stadiums are prohibited.

Sanders, in his first season with the Buffaloes, didn’t seem too concerned about the allegations.

“Back in our glory days with San Francisco as well as the Cowboys, you know darn well Emmitt Smith is getting the ball,” Sanders said. “You know darn well Mike Irvin is running to come back. You know darn well Jay Novacek is gonna do what he’s gonna do and you can’t stop it.”

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